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A charming new Prince joins some familiar faces for the New Wolsey’s rock’n’roll panto

PUBLISHED: 17:07 30 November 2018

The cast in rehearsals for Cinderella, the New Wolsey's rock'n'roll panto for 2018. Photo:Mike Kwasniak

The cast in rehearsals for Cinderella, the New Wolsey's rock'n'roll panto for 2018. Photo:Mike Kwasniak

www.mikekwasniak.co.uk

Actor Chris Vince may be making his professional debut on the New Wolsey stage but he is no stranger to the Ipswich theatre as Arts editor Andrew Clarke finds out

The cast outside the theatre before  rehearsals for Cinderella, the New Wolsey's rock'n'roll panto for 2018. Photo:Mike KwasniakThe cast outside the theatre before rehearsals for Cinderella, the New Wolsey's rock'n'roll panto for 2018. Photo:Mike Kwasniak

For New Wolsey’s Prince Charming, Chris Vince, his debut in the theatre’s hugely popular rock’n’roll pantomime isn’t his first venture onto the Ipswich theatre’s stage.

Chris, a recent graduate from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, was a regular performer on the Suffolk amateur theatre scene, appearing at the New Wolsey in the world premiere of Galileo, a new musical staged by The Gallery Players, and was a member of the New Wolsey’s Young Company. He is a familiar face to Suffolk audiences but he says that it is a dream-come true to join the cast of Cinderella, having grown up watching some of his fellow cast members on stage in previous years.

“It’s not my first time on the New Wolsey stage, but it is my first in such esteemed company. They are very, very good. They know their stuff and it keeps you on your toes but having said that there is a real feeling of camaraderie which translates into the performances.

Chris Vince in rehearsals for Cinderella, the New Wolsey's rock'n'roll panto for 2018. Photo:Mike KwasniakChris Vince in rehearsals for Cinderella, the New Wolsey's rock'n'roll panto for 2018. Photo:Mike Kwasniak

“They are real feelgood shows and that transmits itself to the audience and they bounce it back to us. Having been out front before, I am really looking forward to being on the otherside of the footlights this time around.”

For writer-director and creator of the New Wolsey rock’n’roll pantomime, Peter Rowe, the trick is to keep the productions fresh. After two years of showcasing new pantos, he is returning to Cinderella, the show that launched the theatre’s distinctive Christmas showcase way back in 2002.

“It’s the same but different. You’ll recognise some things for sure, there are some things which I can’t conceive Cinderella without, some songs are the same. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow still seems the perfect song for that moment in the story but there are other times where we are dropping in numbers which you won’t have heard before.

Mark Newnham, Sheridan Lloyd and Sean Kingsley in rehearsals for Cinderella, the New Wolsey's rock'n'roll panto for 2018. Photo:Mike KwasniakMark Newnham, Sheridan Lloyd and Sean Kingsley in rehearsals for Cinderella, the New Wolsey's rock'n'roll panto for 2018. Photo:Mike Kwasniak

“The key the rock’n’roll panto is that we are not dropping any old hit song in there, they have to be right for the story and add something to the emotional narrative as well – and that’s the fun of the writing process to marry up the right song for that moment in the story.”

Songs include: Shake A Tail Feather, Three Steps To Heaven, It’s Raining Men And Try A Little Tenderness and Downtown.

One of the great delights for the audience is seeing the extended New Wolsey family of actor-musicians come together in various combinations for the annual romp through the rock’n’roll panto.

Chris Vince as Prince Charming and Daniella Piper as Cinders in rehearsal for Cinderella, the New Wolsey's rock'n'roll panto for 2018. Photo:Mike KwasniakChris Vince as Prince Charming and Daniella Piper as Cinders in rehearsal for Cinderella, the New Wolsey's rock'n'roll panto for 2018. Photo:Mike Kwasniak

“Many of the company have worked here before, not only in the pantomime but is the various actor-musician shows that we do. Audiences like seeing familiar faces but we like to keep things fresh and balanced by introducing one or two new faces, like Chris, each year, so you are constantly keeping the mix exciting.”

For Chris Vince, he says, joining boyhood heroes on stage is somewhat surreal. “I remember watching Cinderella the last time around, I remember watching Steve Simmonds do his stuff and here I am now working alongside him. So it’s been a challenge but in a good way. It helps that everyone is so secure in what they are doing and they know what the game is. They are very welcoming and very helpful but I can’t escape the feeling, on occasion, that I am being thrown in the deep end.”

Peter Rowe, his director, doesn’t have these worries. He is getting on fine. Chris is a known quantity, having come up through the New Wolsey Young Company, and Peter says that if he didn’t think he could hold his own on stage then he wouldn’t have cast him.

Director Peter Rowe in rehearsals for Cinderella, the New Wolsey's rock'n'roll panto for 2018. Photo:Mike KwasniakDirector Peter Rowe in rehearsals for Cinderella, the New Wolsey's rock'n'roll panto for 2018. Photo:Mike Kwasniak

“I went to see his final show at Mountview, which was Made in Dagenham. Ben Goddard, who MDs (musical directs) the Wolsey shows MD’d it, so Ben had been working with Chris for a number of weeks, and I obviously knew Chris’ history when I went along to see it and I thought he would make a perfect Prince, which he is.”

Chris’ cast mates include: Daniella Piper in the role of Cinderella, Lucy Wells flies into the role of Fairy Godmother, James Haggie returns as the lovable Buttons, Adam Langstaff will take the role of Ugly Sister, Verruca (and drummer), Ipswich favourite Sean Kingsley returns for the second time this autumn to join Langstaff as Ugly Sister Hernia, Steve Simmonds returns to the New Wolsey stage in the role of Baron Hardup, Susannah van den Berg will also grace the New Wolsey stage again in the role of Rubella De Zees, Mark Newnham takes the role of Dandini while Sheridan Lloyd will make his New Wolsey debut take the role of Royal Messenger.

Cinderella is at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, until February 2 2019.

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